[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]

E-M:/ EPA Power Plant Air Toxics Report

Enviro-Mich message from asagady@sojourn.com

This report will likely have significant implications for
large and small Michigan electric utility plants....


From: GROUP PRESS 202-260-4355 <PRESS@epamail.epa.gov>
To: Multiple recipients of list <epa-press@valley.rtpnc.epa.gov>
Subject: PR
X-Listprocessor-Version: 6.0c -- ListProcessor by Anastasios Kotsikonas
X-Comment: U.S. EPA Press Releases
Return-Path: epa-press@valley.rtpnc.epa.gov


     EPA today released a technical report required by Congress that 
evaluates toxic air emissions from electric power plants.  The Agency 
also detailed a series of steps it is taking to protect public health 
and the environment from these emissions. 
     The report concludes that mercury is the air toxic of greatest 
public health concern from utilities.  One third of all human-
generated U.S. mercury emissions come from coal-fired plants (51 tons 
annually).  No mercury is emitted from gas or oil-fired plants.  
Although not conclusive, evidence suggests a link between utility 
mercury emissions and the methylmercury sometimes found in soil, 
water, air and fish caught in contaminated waters.

     "Actions this Administration already has taken will reduce 
emissions of mercury by over 50 percent by 2006," said EPA 
Administrator Carol M. Browner.  "We will continue to take cost-
effective, common-sense actions to protect public health and the 
environment from these emissions."

     The report concludes there are no feasible technologies currently 
available that could  effectively reduce mercury from coal-fired 
facilities.  EPA, however, still is taking several steps likely to 
further reduce mercury emissions, including:

       Implementing EPA's tougher new air standards for smog and 
particulate matter (soot);

       Evaluating new or promising control technologies;

       Seeking better information on emissions from individual power 
plants, and developing a proposal to make this information available 
to citizens by lowering the threshold for mercury reporting under the 
Agency's right-to-know program (the Toxic Release Inventory).

     Additionally, some steps that power plants may take to help 
reduce greenhouse gases could also serve to reduce mercury emissions.

     Since 1995, EPA has taken several steps addressing other 
important sources of mercury to reduce emissions by over 50 percent by 
2006.  These steps include:

       EPA has issued final rules to reduce  mercury emissions by 94 
percent from medical waste incinerators.

       EPA has proposed to reduce mercury emissions by 90 percent from  
hazardous waste incinerators (The rules are expected to become final 
late this year); and

       EPA has issued final regulations to cut mercury emissions by 90 
percent from municipal waste combustors.
     The greatest exposure of humans to mercury is for those 
subsistence fishers and others who regularly eat large amounts of non-
commercial fish from mercury-polluted waters.  The typical U.S. 
consumer eating fish from restaurants and grocery stores is not in 
danger of consuming harmful levels of methylmercury.
     Besides mercury, the report analyzes 66 other toxic air 
pollutants from 684 power plants nationwide that burn coal, oil or 
gas, and that are greater in size than 25 megawatts generating 
     The report finds  there are also potential health concerns about 
utility emissions of dioxin, arsenic, hydrogen chloride, hydrogen 
fluoride and nickel, although uncertainties exist about the health 
data and emissions for these pollutants, and more investigation and 
evaluation are needed. The rest of the 67 air toxics studied do not 
appear to be of significant concern for public health. 

     Scientific experts outside EPA  peer-reviewed the report, and 
their comments were incorporated in today's publication. 

     The report will be computer-accessible on the Internet at the 
following address: http://www.epa.gov/airlinks.

     The study is entitled "Study of Hazardous Air Pollutant Emissions 
from Electric Utility Steam Generating Units -- Final Report to 
Congress," February 1998 (EPA - 453/R-98-004 a & b).  Paper copies 
will be available from the National Technical Information Service 
(NTIS) in several weeks.  Check the above internet address for further 

     For further technical information on the study, contact Bill 
Maxwell or Chuck French of EPA's Office of Air Quality Planning and 
Standards at 919-541-5430 or 919-541-0467 respectively. 


Alex J. Sagady & Associates        Email:  asagady@sojourn.com
Environmental Consulting and Database Systems
PO Box 39  East Lansing, MI  48826-0039  
(517) 332-6971 (voice); (517) 332-8987 (fax)

ENVIRO-MICH:  Internet List and Forum for Michigan Environmental
and Conservation Issues and Michigan-based Citizen Action.   Archives at

Postings to:  enviro-mich@great-lakes.net      For info, send email to
majordomo@great-lakes.net  with a one-line message body of  "info enviro-mich"